Friday, August 5, 2016

Minnesota Breweries One by One #59: Lakeside Tavern Brewery, Detroit Lakes

Hi, there. Maybe you're new here. Perhaps this is your first visit to the Bitter Nib. It's possible that you are unfamiliar with Minnesota Breweries One by One. I'll give you a quick little overview.

In January of this year, I thought about all the of the new breweries that have been popping up all over Minnesota in these past few years, and how many I haven't been to. I came up with the idea of visiting all of the breweries in Minnesota within the year 2016, even the ones I've been to before, and each one would get it's own blog post. If the brewery does not have a taproom (Olvalde Farms, Borealis Fermentery, Mantorville), that would make it harder to visit, and may be skipped.

Since I don't own a car or know how to drive one, I needed a friend on board to help out with that, and Jason Braunwarth rose to the challenge. We've been to 41 breweries together so far, I've been to 3 with another friend, Dave Anderson, and another 18 were handled solo, by bike or bus. I've been to 62 so far, but for various reasons, this is the 36th published. I'll be getting to those 26 soon, believe me.

How many are left? Well, it's kind of a moving target. Two more opened last week, more coming quick. According to my best calculations, that number now is at 105, with at least 7 more threatening to arise by year's end. So, we have about 50 more to get to by years end. 10 more each month. That's possible. We can do it.

And what we are doing is going to all of them. Not just the good ones, not just the ones that sound kind of nice, all of them. If you brew beer in Minnesota, we are coming to drink your beer.
Which is it: Lakeside Tavern Brewery, or Tavern Brewery?

And that's why on Thursday, July 29, we were heading back from our visit to Fargo-Moorhead, and stopped in at Tavern Brewery in Detroit Lakes. Or was it Lakeside Tavern Brewery? There were signs that read "Est. 1891". Perhaps the tavern, but certainly not the brewery. Their website boasts that they are "Minnesota's #1 peanut bar! Not voted best, just IS!" I didn't see a lot of peanuts, though.

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, 205 miles northeast of the Twin Cities, county seat of Becker County, home to 8, 569 people, only 90% of them pale faced. Popular summer destination for recreational water-based activities. The city was founded in 1871 as Detroit, and they added the Lakes when they noticed what a great lake they had. I think that's how it happened. I'm still confused about why the lake is called Detroit Lake and the city employs a plural.

Simple decor: taxidermy and random macro-brewery
signs all over the place. 
Last summer, the owner of Lakeside Tavern decided that his establishment would become DL's first brewpub, and that puts them on our list. We arrived and took our seats at the bar, with about
five big screen TVs demanding our attention from above, two of them showing football, and three displaying some kind of ultimate fighting match, where burly, bloody men in shorts cling to one another and occasionally pummel their partner/opponent/whatever. It wasn't what I wanted to watch with my lunch.

IPA with unwanted grapefruit slice. A first in all my
beer-drinking years.
We scanned the beer list, and I went for something called Broadslide Upslide India Pale Ale. When the frosted pint glass arrived, I found something strange resting on the rim. "What's this?" I wondered, keeping a tone of wonder and curiosity. I hate cold glassware and have no use for fruit in my beer, but I also did not want to turn the bartender against me by openly displaying indignation. "It's a grapefruit slice," she answered, as if that explained it's presence. "I just wasn't expecting it!" I replied. Her answer to this was delivered with her back turned to me: "Well, you can just take it out!"

I don't want to have to remove a wedge of fruit that shouldn't be there in the first place! Who came up with this? Is this done anywhere else in the world? Let's see, hefe weizens have a citrus-y flavor, so someone came up with the lemon wedge concept. Belgian white ales (witbiers) are brewed with orange peel, so the folks at Blue Moon really pushed that orange slice business. And now these guys think that if an IPA has a grapefruit-y note, you should stuff a crappy slice of fruit on the rim of the glass, that's already too cold. I say thee nay, good sirs.

(Get ready to call me a hypocrite when I get to the post about Kilstone Brewery in Fargo, ND. They were serving What? Er...Melon Wheat with watermelon slices on the glasses. Except for mine. Boy, did I let them have it! It was the fourth brewery of the day and my hold on decorum had slipped some.)

Do they put a grapefruit wedge on your Furious? Bent Hop?
Ranger? Maybe I should've ordered one of those.
That's as far as our conversation about that went, and I could feel the server's attitude get chillier towards us city folk. I turned my attention to the beer itself. A fairly innocuous IPA, malty, with mild hop bitterness. I wouldn't choose one again. Among the other beers was a Blonde Ale with the charmingly sexist name "Beach' n Blonde", with it's own sexist tap handle. All the other beers use the same style of handle, but Beach' n is adorned with a buxom lass in a bikini. Cute.

Maybe I'd have liked the porter more if it
wasn't frozen?
I consumed my bland chicken sandwich with a determined lack of aplomb, and soldiered forth with a porter called, for whatever reason, Harry Man. Again, with the chilled glass, and I don't want to start with the server again. If I refused the over-cold porter, I'd get a staredown from Hell, and who knows what kind of attitude in response. I'd prefer it in a Solo cup over this 35 degree nonsense. Beside the improper temperature, it had a thin body and lacked most of the flavors I look for in a porter. Jason, meanwhile, had an uninspired seasonal called Admiral Ale, which is available during the Water Carnival.

There was little interest in us to sample their other wares. We had enough to let us know there weren't going to be any hidden treats among the rest of the beers. Blonde, pale ale, lager, shandy, they would be just as drab as the ones we sampled. A pity, then, that we had so much time to kill. Our next stop wasn't open until 3 pm and was 30 minutes away.
Keep staring at bleeding near-naked men and slurp our lackluster beers, or take a walk along the lakeside? Away to the lake we went, and day-dreamed of better beers to come.


1 comment:

phaserdb said...

Being a native of Detroit Lakes, I felt compelled to respond to this blog. As I understand, Lakeside Tavern is historically prominent. The brewery has been developed in the last year. I guess they will go through the trial and error phase (some breweries/pubs get stuck there) of introducing bland and indistinctive beer made for the masses. I must admit it is a brave venture to be the first brewery in DL. By the way, the original town name of Detroit was changed to the current one because of a postal confusion with the metropolis Detroit, MI.